Updated: 9/30/08; 6:03:51 AM.
Gary Mintchell's Feed Forward
Manufacturing and Leadership.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just saw a short note that Opto 22 has established an office in China.

3:03:41 PM    comment []

I need to wrap up the Invensys week. It was really hectic, and I sat in on a bunch of seminars. On the way home, I was impressed by all the folks at the Houston airport who served me and all the other travelers despite Hurricane Ike bearing down on them. Thank you all. I'm sure that only the media (especially Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel) are disappointed that the destruction isn't any worse than it is.

IPS VP Peter Martin told me that engineers need to pay more attention to their impacts on their companies so that they can inform senior management of the important role that engineers and manufacturing have in the enterprise. "We impact only five things," Martin said, "production, number of employees, cost of feedstock, environment and safety. The usual curves people draw show costs of these things declining over the lifetime of the asset and a benefit curve somewhere above. Actually, the benefits are usually 100 or 1,000 times greater than the curve shows." His point is that engineers spend too much time calculating costs in relation to time that should be spent defining and calculating benefits. As if on cue, I sat in a real-time optimization session later where some Shell engineers researched problem and in the end showed a net of $14 million in contribution margin improvements because of the decisions based on optimization. As a U.S. Senator said many years ago, "That's real money."

I sat in a safety session led by Luis Duran and a cybersecurity session led by Ernie Rackowsky. Both discussed business benefits of good practices in their areas. Building a culture in the company for safety and security was the real takeaway.

A recurring question during the conference, do engineers do things because they can, or because they should?

The leading press release issued during the conference stated that the Global Consulting organization of Invensys Process Systems (IPS) celebrated a year of successful operation.

The IPS consulting group was formed in September 2007. The organization integrates consulting talent from IPS brands to help clients make improvements in the following areas: enterprise performance, including identification of strategic business metrics and implementation of operational intelligence solutions; operations performance, including operator and engineering effectiveness; and asset performance, including maintenance effectiveness and critical equipment and instrument management.

"A growing number of client successes and new client relationships indicate the progress our Global Consulting group has made over the last several months," said Paulett Eberhart, IPS President and Chief Executive Officer in the release. "By uniting and delivering thought leadership, cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions, our global consultants are helping clients discover hidden potential in their production assets. Working with our clients, we have helped them reduce energy and supply chain costs, manage safety and regulatory constraints, and realize improvements in operational efficiency--all to the benefit of their customers, shareholders and employees."

IPS consultants are either driving or participating in many significant global engagements. Some of the projects currently underway include:
  • A real-time finance and business intelligence solution that is already helping Sasol achieve significant savings in energy costs at its synthetic fuels plant in Johannesburg, South Africa;
  • A consulting site assessment for a wireless process alarm and plant condition monitoring system, which will enhance plant safety, improve utilization of manpower and increase productivity for the Arkema Groupâo[dot accent]s facility in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • Implementation of advanced process control that is improving throughput, product quality and consistency, as well as minimizing process variability, for Codelco, the worldâo[dot accent]s largest copper producer, based in Santiago, Chile;
  • Implementation of an operator training simulator, including a solution for distributed control systems and safety system simulation, that will improve operational efficiency for the BASF FINA Petrochemicals LP olefins plant in Port Arthur, Texas;
  • Implementation of a real-time cyber security management solution that will prevent, monitor or mitigate potential cyber threats to Husky Energy's upgrader plant in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.
"Our consulting services are a powerful extension of our world-class capabilities, enabling our clients to improve the effectiveness and performance of their business operations in a safe and environmentally responsible manner," said Nathalie Marcotte, Vice President, Global Consulting. "We apply our experience, technical skills and domain knowledge, as well as our portfolio of IPS technology and third-party products, to truly help clients address their unique business needs. Our integrated solutions enable key decision makers to track the performance of their plants in real time. Armed with that intelligence, they can make on-the-fly adjustments to increase their supply chain responsiveness, forecast production capability and, ultimately, achieve operational excellence."

2:49:50 PM    comment []

Just had a couple of incidents come together that remind me of a leadership lesson. Two things never to talk about in polite company--politics and religion. I'm going to do both ;-)

Momentum is a term overused in sports contexts, and maybe in politics. But recently I noticed that Obama seemed to have lost momentum after he sewed up the Democratic nomination. The summer issue of The Atlantic magazine contains an excellent article about the disarray of the Clinton campaign headquarters. Meanwhile, for whatever reasons that McCain did it, his choice of a Christian Right running mate who is also a woman energized an important Republican constituency -- and got ABC some ratings in the mix. The leadership thing is to watch to see how Obama regains (if he does) some of that momentum. I know who I'm voting for, so I don't care about the politics. I am fascinated by leadership issues. This will be interesting.

Yesterday I visited the Willow Creek Community Church (my daughter is a youth leader there). This is one of the original "mega churches" founded by Bill Hybels 33 years ago.  I think weekly attendance is around 15,000 or more. Recently Hybels decided he had sufficient senior leadership in place under him, so he took off for other mission areas and reduced his time (and impact) at the church. Then the senior people all left to "run their own" organizations.  Now he's back full time to regain some lost momentum.

I've done similar things on a much, much smaller scale in church work and soccer referee organizations. Building up that leadership so that you can pass it on is a critical step. It's worth considering for me after spending 5.5 years building up a good magazine--I don't want to lose momentum now. How about you? Time to reach down and find a way to re-invigorate your momentum?

Sorry about missing some posts. Too many travel days in the last week--only to come home from Chicago (yes, Dallas to Houston to home to Chicago for family time to finally home) last night to the aftermath of Ike hitting western Ohio. I settled down to watch the Browns and catch up on a bunch of things only to discover the cable (my source of Internet) was down. No Browns. No posting. Time to buy that EVDO card.

2:29:09 PM    comment []

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